Actually, those of us who use mobility aids or have visible disabilities tend to get questions year-round, often from strangers. For children with disabilities, this can be especially difficult.
Here are five essential things you need to know about people with disabilities, and how together we can build a more equal world for all.
1. People, and children, with disabilities are all around you
The Australian Government estimates that about 18 per cent of Australians have a disability, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 26 per cent of Americans have a disability. Wherever you live, there are people of all ages with disabilities in your community, and almost certainly in your workplace, circle of friends or family.
Like all children, children with disabilities have the right to protection, healthcare, education, participation and play. But my work with UNICEF has made it clear that for many children with disabilities around the world, particularly in developing countries, fulfilment of these rights is far from reached.
We have a responsibility to make sure every person or child living with a disability feels included, has access to services and is never a victim of abuse.
"Disability, injury and illness are all
a natural part of the human experience."
2. Most disabilities are invisible
That’s right, the common wheelchair symbol for disability, though valuable, doesn’t give the full picture. You can’t tell if someone has a disability just by looking at them.
If someone tells you they are unable to engage in a particular task today due to their disability, or if they use a mobility aid, or have a disabled parking pass, it’s for a reason. And that reason is between them and their doctor.
Very few disabilities are ‘static’. Bodies change, they become tired, or pain and dizziness fluctuate. Children and adults with disabilities may find their condition changes day to day or year to year, and in some cases minute to minute.
This is common and valid. People with medical conditions don’t need your judgement, they need your understanding. Abuse of children and adults with disabilities is rife. Don’t be part of the problem by deciding at a glance who is ‘really’ disabled.